Aleteia

Live far away from your godchild? Here’s how to still fulfill your role as godparent

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It’s never too late to establish the ties and build this important relationship.

On the day of baptism, we commit ourselves, as godfather or godmother, to help the parents of our godchild “educate in faith, so that these children live according to God’s commandments, for the Lord and for their fellow man, as Christ teaches in the Gospel.”

We are not mere witnesses at the baptism: we have given our word. And we were serious. But what happens after that? Months and even years later, buffeted by the ups and downs of life, inundated with umpteen preoccupations, being far away, we find it difficult to respect that commitment and feel vaguely guilty for not having done enough for our godchildren, or at least some of them. Sometime we are even conscious of having failed them. It is never too late to do what is right: even if after several years we have barely done anything with them, that’s no reason to throw in the towel. 

Being at all the important events

To start with, we can pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit to show us how to put our responsibilities into practice with them. A sincere letter, where we apologize for not having been in contact for so long or for any quarrels or serious issues you may have had, will make it possible to get back in touch. Even when your godchild is an adult, it is wonderful to have a godmother or godfather who is attentive and affectionate. It is never too soon to begin.  

Remember that our mission consists, above all, in helping the parents, which is why, from the very start, it is important to establish a deep relationship with them. Even though we may already know them well, or if they are our siblings or best friends, our status as godfather and godmother creates a new tie, a spiritual tie. We should pray for them, and whenever possible, with them. 

Why not start a pen pal relationship?

When our godchild is still young, we should take time to talk about him with his parents. We should get interested in his personality that is gradually unfolding, and in his progress and difficulties. We should try to bring out what we want for him. And offer a way to keep up the relationship: plan a series of weekends where you can spend an afternoon together or a few days of vacation once a year if distance keeps you from meeting more often. We should pay attention to everything that makes up the life of our godchild. It is important to pay attention to the news, to stay present in spite of the distance for all the important events, like birthdays, back to school, graduations, etc. 

On the other hand, don’t forget that children, especially once they turn 5 or 6, love getting letters addressed specifically to them. Even if it is just a few simple words on a postcard, this shows that someone thought about them in a very special way. And once they learn to read and write, letters are a way to say many things, from silly anecdotes to very deep feelings. A letter can be saved be read over and over … a real treasure!

Create unforgettable memories

Godfathers and godmothers are a privileged connection for the child and make them feel unique and special. It is also important that when we visit our godchild to take a moment to be alone, without other brothers or sisters, and without our own children. It can be simply a walk for the two of you or a special day where you do something more out of the ordinary, which would naturally include Sunday Mass or time for prayer. 

We often feel that we are terrible godfathers or godmothers … And maybe it’s true. But the worst thing we could do is lose our courage. We should remember that, by way of the parents and through the Church that ratified their decision, it is God himself who has entrusted us with this mission. Let’s look to Him to help us manage it well, even if we are far away from our godchild. And we can be sure that He will give us the means to fulfill our task, right here, and right now. 

Christine Ponsard 

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